The Unexpected Life: a strange couple
by Alfonso Rivera
- Jorge Torregrossa returns with a nostalgic comedy filmed in New York, following a screenplay by Elvira Lindo, starring Raúl Arévalo and Javier Cámara
Anyone who knows Fin [+see also:
interview: Jorge Torregrossa
film profile], the debut by Jorge Torregrossa, will be surprised by his suspense-filled second film, a complete – and risky - turnaround. The Unexpected Life [+see also:
interview: Jorge Torregrossa
film profile] (La vida inesperada) is, just like its title, a surprising deviation from the narrative lines used by Torregrossa in his feature debut, his shorts (full of atmosphere and ambiguity), as well as his television work.
With this new film, the director takes us to New York, a city where he lived for eight years, basing himself on a story written by screenwriter, writer, columnist and actress Elvira Lindo (who knows the city well, living there half of the year), offers us a bittersweet comedy.
In order to do this, she gives us two contrasting characters: Juan, an actor who survives doing everything (Javier Cámara, recent Goya recipient), and his cousin (Raúl Arévalo), a boy who leaves Spain, his work and a future marriage with the idea of spending one month in New York. But while the latter admires “Juanito”, the artist has never liked his relative’s success and order – a winner according to bourgeois values. Two characters who come face to face – in pure American comedy style – and who will have to learn a lot as the film unravels, following a Broadway style musical start.
But the hour and a half that follows shows the other side of Woody Allen’s city: we see a modest theatre company full of dirt and the way in which the dreams of so many remain only half lived. But Torregrossa, thanks to a watchful production, photography and careful staging, does not indulge in sordidness. Instead, he attenuates the characters’ conflicts with a tone that is both nostalgic and positive, with the undercurrent of time passing, of missed opportunities and the constant uprooting, which is so turbulent it leaves a bittersweet taste in the spectator’s mouth.
A co-production between the United States and Spain, The Unexpected Life is a beautiful portrait of those who travel towards a city with the most powerful of illusions. The clash of cultures contrasts with the fascination of the exotic. Living at the centre of the world stands in contrast with the sadness of how far a motherland is. The arrival of maturity takes over the unconscious and youth’s energy, which faces everything without fear. Lindo and Torregrossa consider everything as they let run their passion for a city, which never tires, the stage for so many legendary films, when you arrive there you feel you are part of a script: as an actor making his own film… But so often the film’s ending is so different than what we imagined.
(Translated from Spanish)